AN air ambulance helicopter was forced to make an emergency landing in a field yesterday after it collided with power lines while responding to an urgent call.
The Air Corps EC-135 was en route from Athlone, Co Westmeath to Borrisoleigh, Co Tipperary to bring a patient to hospital when the incident occurred in north Tipperary 20 minutes after take-off.
The air ambulance, which was only launched a fortnight ago, had three people on board -- two Air Corps crew and one HSE paramedic.
None were injured during the incident, which was described as "a heavy landing" by the Department of Justice, Equality and Defence.
At around 7.30pm a convoy of military trucks arrived at the scene.
It was expected last night that the damaged aircraft would be removed to a secure location for further examination.
Investigations were continuing last night as to why the helicopter collided with power lines, a so-called "wire strike".
The aircraft has wire cutters above the cabin and below the rotor blades to help to deal with such an event. However, it is not known which part of the aircraft struck the power lines as the main rotor blades and tail appeared undamaged.
After receiving a call to collect a male patient in Borrisoleigh, the helicopter left Custume Barracks, Athlone at 1.50pm.
It struck the power lines shortly after 2.10pm while approaching Borrisoleigh.
After the collision, the helicopter was forced to land in a field two miles outside of Borrisoleigh along the main Nenagh road.
While the extent of damage has yet to be determined, it is believed that the fuselage was damaged.
Following the landing, a road ambulance brought the male patient from Borrisoleigh to University Hospital Limerick.